Over the past couple years, religionistas of all sorts have attempted to navigate a new media landscape in which old constructions of religious authority, identity, affiliation, and practice are changing almost by the minute.
Trends the author has noticed reshaping religion and spirituality (Excerpted, great stuff in the full post, including many live links to examples):
1. Social Prayer
Throughout 2011, the “Jesus Daily” Facebook page has outranked soccer superpowers and celebrity superstars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber as the “most engaging” locale on Facebook. …more than half of the top twenty most engaging pages—pages that move beyond mere broadcast messaging to share content that inspires participants to interact with one another—are religious.
The location based service (LBS) Foursquare reached 10 million users this summer —a 10,000 percent increase over its member base in 2009. While there are questions about whether all those members are active, and bigger ones about whether Foursquare will be able to hold its own against LBS applications now offered by Facebook (which just acquired LBS competitor Gowalla) and Google, it’s clear that the social practice of “checking in” wherever you are is taking hold across social media platforms.
3. O Holy App
With more than half a million apps now available for the iPhone or iPad, and maybe 232 for the Android, it’s clear that the number of religiously-themed apps is growing. Prayer book apps, those for on-the-go spiritual practices, and other tools that integrate spirituality into everyday life have been most popular.
If the folks at Nielsen are correct, smartphones will continue to overtake, uh, dumb phones, making app-based connection and information-sharing a continuing growth area.
4. Curate as Curator
Religionistas who can curate content that facilitates online and offline connection will earn more stars in the digital book of everyday life than those who …(oh, sweet mother of mercy, please make it stop!) their latest sermon.
5. A Few New Commandments
In 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut was among the first to offer social media guidelines. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop published social media guidelines. The USCCB guidelines have a similar tone to those from the Diocese of Connecticut, with charming definitions of things like “web 2.0” and “blogs.”
Elizabeth Drescher is the author of Tweet If You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation (Morehouse, 2011) and, with Keith Anderson, the forthcoming Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (Morehouse, 2012).